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Some media are using individuals to slander me, Chikwanda speaks out

Filed under: Business,Latest News |
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Chikwanda

Chikwanda

Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda has finally responded to the mounting pressure demanding for his resignation saying some individuals are used by some media to pour scorn on him.

Chikwanda in a statement released today, August 20 explained that some individuals for reasons best known to themselves with no moral reference whatsoever have for the period he has been at Ministry of Finance carried out an insidious slander campaign against him.

“I have desisted from pouring scorn on individuals used by some media operatives to indulge in obscenities and falsehoods against me, to avoid giving legitimacy to their insinuations, and credibility to their unconstrained enthusiasm to slander other citizens,” Chikwanda stated.

He added: “Some media practitioners have unassailable advantages of perpetuating crusades against individuals who are perceived as inconveniences to them, shamefully, at the behest of political allies whose mission may have crash landed. The media is a very potent channel of communication. Therefore, those who have the power to manage it need to act not only in an objective manner, but with moral constraint.”

Below is the full statement:

Some fellow citizens, for reasons best known to themselves; with no moral reference whatsoever; but almost as long as I have been at the Ministry of Finance; have carried out an insidious slander campaign against me. The last spate has been over VAT General Administration Rule 18, premised on distortion arising from a classified letter which talked about the uncertainty on the VAT Rule, a measure which has inadvertently undermined confidence in the economy. This rule affects not only the mining sector, but all exporters across industry.

The Mining sector was mentioned as an example because it has the largest accumulated backlog of refunds, which under the law have to be refunded. The delays on the refunds is largely on account of the rule requiring among other things, documentation from importers outside our country’s jurisdiction. Government has a duty to revisit practices which impinge negatively on the efficient functioning of the economy. The Mining Sector is critical to the economy.

Over the years, past government administrations and the current PF regime has diversified the revenue base to the extent that the mining sector now accounts for less than 10% of internally generated revenues. The sector, however, is the largest employer of labor outside government. To this extent, more than 60,000 people are directly employed by the mines and a larger number by industries which service the mines. Notwithstanding, the sector generates 70% of the country’s foreign exchange, which we need to sustain imports and service external loan obligations incurred by government, and even the private sector.

Mining is hard business. The gestations are long between the start of the mine processes from exploration to when a mine comes on stream, let alone to when investors have returns which are a fair recompense for their risks. An enabling environment for this sector is an inescapable imperative. The disposition of the current government is that while a restructuring of things is necessary to enable the country to optimize benefits from the minerals which are non-renewable and not replenishable there should be adequate incentives to keep the mines operational and fellow Zambians in employment.

Government has the capacity to take measures which have the effect of pre-empting tax evasion and all forms of fraudulence without embarking on crusades of demonizing investors. This course of action is being pursued.

I have desisted from pouring scorn on individuals used by some media operatives to indulge in obscenities and falsehoods against me, to avoid giving legitimacy to their insinuations, and credibility to their unconstrained enthusiasm to slander other citizens. Some media practitioners have unassailable advantages of perpetuating crusades against individuals who are perceived as inconveniences to them, shamefully, at the behest of political allies whose mission may have crash landed. The media is a very potent channel of communication. Therefore, those who have the power to manage it need to act not only in an objective manner, but with moral constraint.

In 2011, I opted to accept the call from President Michael Chilufya Sata to reinforce him in pushing forward his bold development agenda which is already transforming Zambia in ways not seen before. We are on course in making an impact on reducing or better even eradicating pervasive poverty that engulfs our nation. I hasten to say, material trappings have never been and will not be a thrust in my life.

I am head of an institution that is entrusted with the onerous task to spearhead the management of the economy. The Ministry of Finance has diligent young men and women who work exceedingly hard in an environment that has a poor work culture. Senior Treasury officials and those in lower echelons work closely together and everything is totally above board. It is gratifying that all of us inspire each other and exchange ideas through the management meetings which are always on course every week. The Good Lord has been kind in guiding us. We are family as we grapple with the enormous challenge of an economy that has to acquire a sustainable momentum.

Because we have a huge backlog of development arrears, the process of enhanced welfare for our people will be slow. There is, thus, a compelling need to ensure that we build a solid foundation and put a stop to resource misuse or misdirection. This is why today, we have launched the Public Financial Management Reform Programme.

In Zambia the spirit of togetherness and fellowship is very entrenched. Having been to many parts of our country in recent times, I am persuaded beyond any shade of doubt that, fraternity is here to stay, and our country will never experience the agony and emotional upheavals that have bedeviled parts of our continent. The space for ardent apostles and high priests of hatred and malice will get increasingly narrower.

I have been touched by the kind gestures of fellow citizens who have been grieved by the brutalities directed at me. They have, on a non-attribution basis, sent me a series of electronic mails in which an array of compatriots exchange views shrouded in malice. It is interesting to be acquainted not only with the intentions of those men but have a glimpse of their fantasy infrastructure!

I leave to people to make their judgments about the schemes of our fellow citizens who I hope God will guide to embrace fellowship and charity to others.

ALEXANDER B. CHIKWANDA, MP
MINISTER OF FINANCE

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